You know the feeling. The now-that-I-am-brushing-my-teeth-I-know-exactly-what-I-should-have-said feeling. I felt that way last Thursday night. I was driving home alone from our 8th annual Raising Kids in a Digital World talk when I realized it. The answer I’d given a mom, in front of 49 other people, was all wrong.
Her question was about her media rules. Those she had for her son that were different from the rules set by the parents of his friends.
We all laughed at the feeling of being ‘that crazy Mom’ and even joked we needed to form the CMC—Crazy Mom Club—for being the parents that set strict boundaries. And then we jumped right into problem solving. When what we needed to do was stop.
And acknowledge what was really going on. We needed to name it—peer pressure.
Not our children’s. Ours.
It’s been a while since we’ve felt it. Because over the years we’ve learned that we can keep our opinions to ourselves when we are standing at a cocktail party listening to someone pontificate about their favorite politician. But when another parent offers to take your 12 year-old to an R-rated movie? Silence isn’t an option. A reply is required. And there it is.
And now it comes with a special twist. We worry for our kids: if I make this decision, what does it do to you?
And so at approximately 8:11 pm last Thursday night I was busy offering answers about what she should do, when what she needed was reassurance about who to be. And so I forgot to say:
“I see you. I see the hard decisions you are making. I see the worry it creates for you. Because what you want most is what is best for your son. And you are concerned that these best choices are impacting him in negative ways.
I’m not the only one who sees you. Everyone here sees you. We have all been you. And we’re going to pause for a moment, before we jump into the problem solving, to breathe. Together. To be, together…Now let’s figure out what to do.”
There were over 50 of us in the room. She was not alone. You are not alone. None of us are alone. Sometimes we forget that. We are all in parenting together.
But maybe alone is the answer. Maybe saying our isolation out loud is what brings us together, and invites us to act together.
“Thank you for the invitation to take him to the movie, I feel alone saying this, but…”
“We’d love to have all the kids over to our house, but I need you to know, and I feel alone saying this…”
“A sleepover? Of course she’d love to come. I feel alone saying this…”
Will we be embarrassed? Rejected? Judged? Yes, it is possible.
But there is another possibility. A greater possibility: that when we offer up our vulnerability, it becomes our power. We are seen. And understood. And no longer alone.
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What has been a time in your parenting life when you felt alone? How did you find your way past it? We all have a story, I’d love to hear yours.